*Funny Not Found

One of my mom’s favorite things to tell us growing up was that “we Parks aren’t funny.”

For the longest time, I believed this was 100% true. As a kid, I’d have these mildly epileptic moments, where I’d suddenly think of a witty comment or make up a new punchline to an old joke… but before I could try it out, the warning siren would go off in my brain. “Parks can’t be funny!” Then I’d freeze in uncertainty, after which I’d inevitably blurt out something that was humorously “safe” and yet completely socially awkward at the same time. Like, “Just kidding!” Or, “Waka waka!” (Again, if you’ve completely missed the theme of my life until now, it’s that I dream of being suave and self-contained in the same way that Edward Scissorhands wistfully fantasizes about making balloon animals.)

Sometimes, I’ll look back at those super-awkward moments in my life–like the time when I tried out for a comedy troupe using a Rodney Dangerfield-style warmup, instead of the utterly BRILLIANT song, “A Lonely Girl’s Love Letter to MySpace”, which I’d written for the occasion–and wonder whether my deep-seated belief in “Parks aren’t funny” has stifled me from the greatness I was meant to achieve. What if instead of “playing it safe” [and BOMBING], I’d gone with my gut and taken a chance? I know that lovable, awkward geek girls are considered “in” right now, but what if I’d taken my high school by storm ten years ago with my own brand of Zooey Deschanel-like “re-geek-ulousity?” What if I’d been the one to prove the old Park Family adage wrong? Or at least add a caveat that “Parks aren’t [intentionally] funny.”

Now that I’m older, wiser and hopefully at least 10% funnier, I think I’ve finally figured out that Mom wasn’t really trying to stop us from reaching our comedic potential. She just didn’t want us to be “that guy/girl” in the room, you know the one. Like Crazy Uncle Jeff, the perpetual joker, who never knew when to quit and kept ribbing and guffawing long after everyone was sick of it. But maybe at some point, Uncle Jeff was just a shy kid who never put himself out there. Maybe someone told him, “Jeff, you should try to tell more jokes.”

There’s either a universal joke or a serious lesson in this, kids. But I’m going to go ahead and let y’all figure out the punchline, because… “Waka waka!”

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2 thoughts on “*Funny Not Found

  1. Interesting that this is one of my most recalled adages from our mom as well. I also must admit that I felt a bit stifled by the “Parks aren’t funny” business, and was terrified of looking like an idiot in front of friends, or other humans in general… but then when I got to the end of high-school or maybe it was early college, I had a similar revelation. It’s not that Parks aren’t funny, we just need to not care to be. I agree that mom was just trying to save us from being the kid that “just won’t shut up,” but I was grateful for the realization that I could be enormously funny when I no longer based my theory for acceptance on it.

    Sometimes I definitely still have those moments, and you may still catch a glimpse of the Park “not funny” gene pop out in me, or our brother or dad… but look at my amazing sister! She is funny! We did it Ronny! We did it!

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